Pro Bono Law Ontario

Pro Bono Law Ontario

February 04, 2010 17:32 ET

Pro Bono Law Ontario Wins Award for Most Innovative Use of Technology in a Pro Bono Project

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--(Marketwire - Feb. 4, 2010) - Pro Bono Law Ontario's signature project for unrepresented litigants, Law Help Ontario, has won the 2010 Law Technology News Award for Most Innovative Use of Technology in a Pro Bono Project. The Award was presented last night at a gala reception held in New York City. This is the third award that PBLO has received for its ground breaking project in as many years.

Launched in December 2007, Law Help Ontario is Canada's first court-based pro bono project tailored to meet the needs of litigants who must represent themselves because they do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Law Help Ontario provides a continuum of brief services to litigants (with civil matters) to help them better navigate the justice system. One of these is A2J, a web-based automated document assembly system that helps them create accurate, properly formatted court forms and pleadings. PBLO has developed court form templates for every level of Ontario's civil court system from Small Claims to the Court of Appeal, many of which are accessible online at www.lawhelpontario.org. Since launching, Law Help Ontario has helped litigants create over 10,000 court forms.

Litigants can access the software, along with legal advice and duty counsel representation free of charge by visiting PBLO's court-based centres at 47 Sheppard Ave. East and 393 University Ave. in Toronto. A third centre is scheduled to open in Ottawa in March 2010. "Law Help's combination of self-help resources, a vibrant pro bono program and innovative technology has been a boon to the 8500 clients we've served since launching," says Lynn Burns, PBLO's Executive Director. "Our goal is to make access to the civil justice system a reality for all Ontarians". 

PBLO developed its A2J service in partnership with Pro Bono Net, as US based charity that uses partnerships and technological innovations to increase access to justice for the millions of poor people who face legal problems every year without help from a lawyer. LTN is an e-journal of American Lawyer Magazine that focuses on the intersection between technology and legal practice.

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BACKGROUNDER

Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO) is a charitable organization that promotes access to justice in Ontario by creating and promoting opportunities for lawyers to provide pro bono (free) legal services to persons of limited means. The Law Help Ontario office at 393 University Avenue in Toronto has been open since December 2007. The Ottawa Law Help centre will be modeled after the Toronto centre. The volunteer lawyers and Law Help staff provide a full range of brief legal services to assist unrepresented litigants and address the key challenges they face when they decide to go to court, such as:

  • Not understanding court rules and procedures

  • Not being able to properly complete court forms

  • Not understanding their legal rights and available remedies

  • Not being able to research or apply case law

  • Not being able to interpret or apply applicable legislation

The Law Help Centre is not designed to replace services of lawyers retained to provide full representation. Rather it operates as a walk-in centre for low-income, unrepresented litigants who are considering litigation, defending or bringing an action, or trying to enforce a court order for civil (non-family) matters. The Law Help Centre only assists clients that cannot afford to hire a lawyer and do not qualify for legal aid. Litigants can come back to the walk-in centre as many times as needed.
PBLO has also received the Ontario's Bar Association's President's Award (2008) and the American College of Trial Lawyers Emil Gumpert Award (2009)

Contact Information

  • For further information or to book an interview:
    PBLO
    Lynn Burns, Executive Director
    (416) 977-4448 x 225
    lynn@pblo.org
    www.pblo.org